|Many Pelicans and Monarch Butterflies at
Natural Bridges State Beach Park in Santa Cruz
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The huge offshore bird rock with many birds on the top and a huge arch underneath dominates the picturesque
seashore landscape near the Natural Bridges State Beach Park in Santa Cruz, California. This park is located
at 2531 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 or at the junction of Swanton Blvd & W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA
95067. Phone:(831) 423-4609. It is about 3 miles west of Santa Cruz Wharf. This picture is taken from the
small parking lot of the Vista Point near the junction of Swanton Blvd & W Cliff Dr.
Map: Click here for interactive Google Map showing location of Natural Bridges State Beach Park
Zoom in for a closer view of many birds on the top of the bird rock. We came to tour Natural Bridges State
Beach Park on November 28, 2017.
Zoom in even more for closer views of many pelicans and cormorants on the bird rock.
This bird rock with an arch is the remaining portion of once a long, narrow peninsula (i.e., connected to the
shore) with three arches, and hence, three bridges.
The old pictures of this Natural Bridges with three bridges/arches and their associated story can be seen here.
Due to erosion, the outer bridge/arch collapsed in 1905 and the inner bridge/arch, that was connected to the
shore, collapsed in the stormy night of January 10, 1980.
Three of thousands of beautiful Monarch butterflies come to roost in a large eucalyptus grove in a gently sloping
canyon in the middle of Natural Bridges State Beach Park in Santa Cruz, California as their winter home for
three reasons: (1) This eucalyptus grove is located in a canyon which provides shelter from the wind, (2) the
moderate coastal weather here protects the Monarch butterflies from freezing in the winter season, and (3)
eucalyptus trees flower in winter season providing the necessary nutrients/snack for the Monarch butterflies in
the winter season. This grove is the largest site in the United States for overwintering Monarch butterflies.
When the air temperature drops below 60 degrees F, the Monarch butterflies hang in dense clusters together
for warmth intertwining their feet along the branches of very tall eucalyptus trees to avoid being dislodged
from their companions by the wind or rain.
With their tan undersides, the tight clusters of Monarch butterflies high on the tall trees look like clumps of
Zoom in for a closer view of the dense clusters of Monarch butterflies.
Each fall, the migratory butterflies arrive at the California coast from across the western United States to seek
sanctuary from the cold winter. They roost in the monarch preserve from October to mid-February, with the
greatest numbers from November to mid-December.
Zoom in even more.
When the air temperature is above 60 degrees F, the Monarch butterflies burst from their clusters, floating
through the trees and into the surrounding area in search of flower nectar and dew as shown in the following
movie that I took:
The entrance of the boardwalk trail leading to the observation deck in the eucalyptus grove for visitors to enjoy
watching the beautiful Monarch butterflies. This entrance is very close to the Visitor Center.
The boardwalk is wheelchair & stroller accessible to go down the gentle slope of the canyon of the eucalyptus
The boardwalk zig-zag with gentle slope to go down the canyon.
The observation deck at the end of the boardwalk at the bottom of the canyon for visitors to look almost
straight up for the Monarch butterflies and their clusters on the tree branches.
The trees are very tall above the observation deck.
These eucalyptus trees are so tall such that the Monarch butterflies and their clusters high on the tree
branches look very small. So, the park ranger provided two telescopes on tripods on the boardwalk for
visitors to get close up views of the Monarch butterflies.
My compact super-zoom camera with 65X optical zoom is very helpful for me to zoom in to get the close up
views of Monarch butterflies and their clusters high on the tree.
On November 28, 2017, when we arrived, the Park Gate indicated that there were about 1,000 Monarch
butterflies in the Park. This is way below the possible peak of 10,000 or more. So, the winter migration of
Monarch butterflies into this eucalyptus grove had not reached its peak yet on November 28, 2017.
The monarchs typically begin arriving in mid-October and have left by mid-February. The number of Monarch
butterflies in the park in any given month in the winter varies from year to year. Before you visit, you may want
to call the park at (831) 423-4609 for current information on the population of Monarch butterflies in the Park.